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Economy in Brief

U.S. Gasoline Prices Retrace Earlier Gain
by Tom Moeller

It's back and forth. Last week the pump price for regular gasoline retraced two of its three cent gain during the prior week to settle at $2.80 per gallon. Nevertheless the price remained up by three-quarters since December of 2008. Yesterday, the spot market price for a gallon of regular gasoline jumped five cents from Friday but was down slightly from last week's average. The figures are reported by the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found in Haver's WEEKLY & DAILY databases.

The price for a barrel of light sweet crude (WTI) eased further last week to $80.46. Nevertheless, the average for the month of $81.01 was its highest since the summer of 2008. Prices that have risen from $71.53 early this past December are more than double the December 2008 low of $32.37. Yesterday, the spot price rose further to $82.17.

Demand for gasoline fell 1.2% last week versus one year ago. That decline compared to a 3.9% increase at the beginning of October. The demand for residual fuel oil rose a lessened 8.4% but distillate demand fell 1.0% y/y. Inventories of crude oil and petroleum products slipped again in early-March and were down slightly from one year ago.

U.S. natural gas prices continued to slide last week to an average $4.03 per mmbtu (+2.6% y/y). Prices reached a high of $6.50 early in January. Nevertheless, prices remained nearly double the September low.

The energy price data can be found in Haver's WEEKLY database while the daily figures are in DAILY. The gasoline demand figures are in OILWKLY.

Weekly Prices 3/29/10 3/22/10 03/15/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Retail Regular Gasoline ($ per Gallon, Regular) 2.80 2.82 2.79 36.8% 2.35 3.25 2.80
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 80.64 81.46 81.76 51.9% 61.39 100.16 72.25
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